Athea Tidy Towns

Our application for the 2017 tidy towns competition has now been submitted and we await a visit from the adjudicators who can visit our village any time after June  11th  to mid-August. With this in mind, we would like to appeal to all residents within the speed limit sings to attend to their ‘own patch’ by weeding, painting, erecting flower displays and attending to boundary walls etc. We would also be grateful if businesses/householders in the village could brush/clean outside their front door. This would help greatly with our efforts. 

We were delighted to be invited to view our telephone box (pictured left) last week and we were beyond impressed with the progress. The concrete telephone box has been constructed from scratch by local man Tommy Hassett. As many will already know, this is a joint project between Athea Tidy Towns and Athea Community First Responders. This box will house our village defibrillator. We would like to thank Griffin Butchers for allowing us to place the telephone box in front of his premises, Billy White for allowing us to install electrics on his property and we would also like to thank Haulie Liston who has agreed to install the electrics for free. We hope to have this installed in the next month. Thanks to Councillors Browne, Sheahan, Foley & Galvin for supporting this project and to Brigid O’Brien & Family for donating towards the installation.

We are as busy as ever with projects for 2017. Signage is currently being upgraded at our Fairy Mountain and we hope to re-launch this area during the summer by hosting a fun day for the children of the parish. This area has also been enhanced by the installation of a picnic bench recreational area. Thanks to John Scanlon who donated this bench.

Our roses on the Glin Road are just beginning to bloom. We would like to thank Sean Barrett who has ‘adopted’ this flower bed and has agreed to tend to the roses. This is a huge help to our group and we are very grateful.

The wall across from the school leading up to the graveyard has been power washed in preparation for painting. Many thanks to Noel O’ Sullivan Painter & Decorator who volunteered to paint this for us at no cost.

We have begun to plant up our many flower beds and our hanging baskets/window boxes will be erected in the next few days. If anyone would like to give a hand with watering the flowers during the summer, please get in touch with any member of the committee.

We are also working with residents from Rathronan Housing Estate to help improve the entrance to their estate. Well done to the residents here for taking the initiative!

Our committee would like to take this opportunity to offer our sympathies to Margaret Carroll & Family on the death of Penny Woulfe RIP. Penny will be greatly missed by all members of the community and we are told Penny was instrumental in establishing a Tidy Towns committee in Athea many years ago.  Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam.


Huge congratulations to Kathleen Barrett of Knocknagorna who was the winner of a silver medal at ‘Bloom’ for her beautiful flower hat creation. Indeed a great achievement – well done Kathleen.

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Going to Ballybunion

The other morning I was listening to the Ryan Tubridy show on Radio 1. It was the week of his trip along the Wild Atlantic Way and on this occasion he was broadcasting from Ballybunion. It brought back great memories to me of days long ago when Ballybunion was a magical place for us and a real treat for us when we were taken there on a fine summer Sunday. My father had a lorry and , after Mass he might say “we’ll go to Bally for the day”.

That was the start of the excitement as we searched for swimming togs, buckets and spades. My mother made heaps of sandwiches and put them in a basket. At last we were ready for the road. The younger children rode in the front of the truck with my father while the older ones, including myself, climbed over the rails into the back. We were dressed in our Sunday best; collar and tie, suit and white socks up to the knees. More often than not there would be turf dust from a load delivered the previous day and as the truck gained speed, this dust began to swirl around and would end up sticking to our clothes and even up our noses. We must have been a sight getting out in Ballybunion but we didn’t care. Along the road to Listowel, the truck would stop and people would climb into the back with us. There was great craic on the way. I remember the sound of the wheels on the road and how the sound changed when we crossed the border from Limerick into Kerry. In those days the roads in Kerry were much better than those in Limerick and the smoother surface made a different sound. When we got to Listowel a few more “passengers” would climb in and we often had ten to fifteen, mostly young men, in  the back.

On to Lisselton and we could get the smell of the salt sea air on the wind. Between Lisselton and  Ballybunion there was sharp humpbacked bridge which wasn’t as smooth as it is today. When the truck hit it we would be thrown up in the air. We soon got to anticipate the approach to the bridge and were ready for the bump. It caused great hilarity when someone was taken unawares and dumped on the seat of their pants. Now we were getting near and then we could see the sea in the distance. The heart beat a little faster as we entered the town and took the right fork up by the church where we normally parked. We couldn’t wait to get down to the beach and immediately into the water. Towels were wrapped around us as we changed into our togs and then, having been cautioned to keep near the shore, we raced towards the water. The run came to a sudden halt when we stepped into the water that seemed to be ice cold. It took ages to get fully immersed but once that was achieved the feeling was wonderful. We wanted to stay there all day but eventually we were called ashore to be towelled dry as we shivered in the air that was actually colder than the water. Despite our best efforts the sand got in everywhere especially between the toes but we didn’t mind.

By this time my father would have gone up town to meet the other lads in one of the local pubs so I, as the eldest would be dispatched to Lyons’ tea house for a big pot of tea. The sandwiches were produced and we tucked in with gusto. There is something about eating sandwiches and drinking tea at the seaside. It has a special flavour that is impossible to get elsewhere. After dining we would play games on the strand with buckets and spades and  rubber balls until it was time to gather up the wet clothes and the blankets and head back to the lorry. No sign of my father yet so we were allowed to go down town to spend our meagre few bob in the penny arcades. We kept some money back to buy an ice cream or a lolly and sometimes we bought a plastic “windmill” to play with on the way home.

Back to the lorry where my mother had found our driver and we piled in for the journey home. I can remember those days as if they were yesterday. Ballybunion certainly was a magical place and we went home jaded from our exertions but already looking forward to the next fine Sunday and all this without a mobile phone, tablet, iPad or transistor! Happy days.

Domhnall de Barra